Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Interview: Damian Wampler, creator/writer of Sevara

Damian Wampler is the creator of the comic book Sevara, whose issue #0 was recently successfully funded through Kickstarter. Sevara features the art talents of two people whose work you’ve seen before in LEGACY #2- Andre Siregar and Anang Setyawan, which is how I became aware of Damian’s book. 

Sevara is an epic story in every sense of the word, showcasing Andre and Anang’s art at the highest of levels as Damian weaves a story spanning thousands of years with intrigue and action, both.

I’d tell you more about it but why don’t we go straight to Damian and hear it from the creator himself and see what he has planned next for Sevara.
1.  Damian how about providing us with a short bio so we can get to know you before we dive into Sevara?
Sure thing! I consider myself first and foremost a photographer, a passion I've had all my life, although I didn't figure that out how to pursue that until later in life. I studied English literature and Anthropology in college and then joined the Peace Corps. I then traveled and studied more, focusing on Russian language and Central Asian areas studies. I ended up going to the School of Visual Arts in New York City to study digital photography, and also produced a play called Twin Towers that same year. Comic books are a fusion of images and words, so my photography and theater background have really helped make Sevara a spectacular book. I'm from Delaware, married with one 7 year old boy, and I travel all the time as an international cultural liaison. Luckily, writing comic books and graphic novels is something I can do from anywhere! 

2.  What is Sevara about? Why did you choose to tell this particular story?

Sevara is about a goddess who awakens from a 10,000 year sleep to find that the memories of her mortal life have corrupted the future. I chose to tell this story because it is a reflection of what is happening today, showing the power of language and storytelling in our modern lives. Regardless of what technology we have, stories will always have a hold on us, for good or for bad. Sevara uses all of my cultural and theological background as the foundation to build a world much like ours but in a future so distant that all traces of our own civilization have been erased. It gives me a blank slate to dig deeper into human nature and investigate some of the core aspects of humanity - war, faith, love etc. But I adhere to a very strict formula - "Don't be boring!" so there's also lots of action and some ironic humor.
3.  The Kickstarter was a smashing success, reaching its original goal in next to no time and though it didn’t quite hit the stretch goal, you still raised over double what you were initially after. What was that like? Anything you would have done differently?

It was a ton of work. I didn't sleep much during the campaign or the months leading up to it. Although I'm glad I did it, I'll never do a Kickstarter again. You really need a year to prepare and a team of people working together to pull off a campaign. It really did kick start Sevara though - we are now producing pages of art and doing the color using the money we've raised, and hopefully sales from the first graphic novel will allow me to publish more volumes. There are a ton of great Kickstarter campaigns out there and its hard to get noticed int he sea of comic book review sites and bloggers, I think some of the success is having generous friends and family and some of the success is just getting spotted by some journalist who likes your work. 
4.  What was it about Andre and Anang’s work that made you say “these are the artists I want on this book”?

I searched for an artist for about a year. I had to have realistic people, beautiful women, and technology that spans all of human history. The artist had to be able to draw a medieval siege engine as well as a hoverbike. That's a tall order. But I saw Andre's work and I was impressed. His attention to detail is phenomenal and his figures and emotions are top notch. He's a rare talent. I loved the lines, but I didn't realize how important the colorist is until I started looking for one. Andre recommended me to a few colorists but Anang was the best. He adds so much depth to the pages and really brings them to life, I have a new respect for colorists now.
5.  Where is Sevara going now? Your Kickstarter did well and grew awareness of the book, but what’s next? Will we see future issues in our local comic shops one day down the road?

I wrote 3 issues of Sevara which will be combined and sold as a graphic novel in the spring of 2015. You'll be able to find it in comic book shops and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The first issue will only be available at select comic book conventions and for Kickstarter backers. But I'd love to do more, these three issues are just the beginning of a long saga about love and betrayal. 

6.   These days it seems everyone’s goal is to write a comic book/graphic novel that Hollywood buys the rights to and throws up on the silver screen. Does that sound like something that you’d be interested in? Or do you feel Sevara is better suited as a comic book?
I'm open to anything, I've got to put my son through school and put food on the table. This was never the intention of Sevara when I first wrote it however, I just had a story in my head and it had to come out. I originally wrote Sevara as a play, but found that it was impossible to produce overseas. I then rewrote it as a comic book, and it works much better this way. The story is so visual it makes a great comic book, and TV and film are also visual mediums so it could work there too. I think Sevara would work really well as a cable TV show along the lines of Game of Thrones - a fully realized fictional world that mirrors our own without bring saddled by the need for historical accuracy. 
7.  When you aren’t writing comic books, what do you do for fun?

Educating my son in things like Star Wars, Transformers G1, Jurassic Park, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters etc. These days most of the movies and TV shows come from my childhood, and my son is always saying "How you YOU know that?" and I have to explain that this idea isn't new but was around when I was a kid. It is fun reliving my childhood with him.   

8.  You lived overseas for some time- what was that like? How was it coming back?
I'm not back for long, only a few months before I head out to Pakistan and Georgia. I love living in interesting places, it puts life in the US in perspective. You learn to appreciate the things you have in America, but you also realize that other countries do things differently and sometimes better. It can be disorientating to have to get to know the new technologies, and I spend a lot of time living out of a suitcase.  

9.  In your opinion, the best superhero movie made to date is…?
I have to think carefully, this will characterize me forever! I like Hellboy II and Blade. The Rocketeer, X-Men 2 and X-Men First Class are high on my list. Batman Returns, Batman Begins, Superman the Movie and Superman II the Richard Donner Cut are special to me as well. All 3 Iron Man movies are wonderful, as well as the Avengers film and the Averngers franchise as a whole. Superhero movies are so much better than now than before, probably starting with the first Spider-Man movie. Even comedies like Sky High and the Incredibles are wonderful. But the best to date would have to be Megamind. Seriously, watch it!

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